Why Johnson's Plan To Bring Back Pounds And Ounces Doesn't Measure Up

A weights inspector explained why the review on using the imperial system will not aid post-Brexit Britain.
Prime minister Boris Johnson has been promising increased tolerance to traditional measurements since 2019
Prime minister Boris Johnson has been promising increased tolerance to traditional measurements since 2019
WPA Pool via Getty Images

Ministers will reconsider the current ban on using imperial units in shops in a celebratory post-Brexit Britain move – but a weights inspector has pointed out the metrics system has little to do with the European Union.

Boris Johnson vowed back in the 2019 general election that he would bring in “tolerance towards traditional measurements”.

Then on Thursday, Brexit minister Lord Frost explained that, in a review of EU red tape, the metric system used across Europe could be dropped “in due course” – meaning shops could go back to selling groceries in pounds and ounces.

When the news broke, weights and measures inspector Pippa Musgrave was quick to pull apart just what these changes would actually mean for the country.

Addressing the prime minister, Musgrave tweeted “sorry to dispel your latest bit of kite flying”, before going on to label this new idea as a “distraction from the appalling way” Johnson is running the UK.

She noted: “The UK transferring to metric measures had b***** all to do with our EU membership.

“The UK agreed, when it signed the OIML [International Organisation of Legal Metrology] in 1856 to move to a single system of measurement.

“Metric measures have been lawful in the UK since 1875.

“Are you proposing the UK leaves the OIML treaty?”

Musgrave added: “Only Myanmar and the USA currently use imperial measures (US measures are actually slightly different). How does this play with your claim of ‘Global Britain’?”

Johnson has championed the idea of the UK becoming ‘Global Britain’ and having a more prominent place on the world stage ever since it left the EU.

The weights inspector continued: “We have a national shortage of Weights and Measures Inspectors.

“Are you going to pay for new inspectors to be trained (which currently takes six years)?

“Certificates of approval for imperial metrological equipment have long since lapsed.

“Will you subsidise the industry cost of certification?

“Most imperial local standards and testing equipment have long been retired. Will you subsidise Local Authorities for the cost of this equipment and the creation of new metrological laboratories?”

She also pointed out that a local standard mass comparator costs £30,000 meaning it would costs millions to reintroduce this equipment.

Musgrave pointed out that imperial measurements were last taught in schools back in the 70s meaning many people do not know how to use these units.

She continued: “Are you willing to invest many more millions in educating the UK population of imperial measures?”

She concluded: “Or is this, like your bridge to Ireland, a nonsense policy only to distract from the appalling way you are running this country?”

Before You Go